One thing that unites us as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the wide-open spaces that we love. Since 2001, the Nebraska Land Trust (NLT) has been doing just that in places Nebraskans love, like the Pine Ridge, Niobrara River and lower Platte River Valley. In February, the NLT was approved for renewal of its national land trust accreditation – proving once again that it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public trust in its conservation work.
Nationwide, approximately 30% of land trusts have achieved accreditation and they protect roughly 20 million acres – the size of Denali, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined. The NLT is the only land trust based in Nebraska that is nationally accredited.
“Accreditation requires us to be the very best land trust we can be and Nebraskans deserve no less when it comes to permanent conservation of our cherished landscapes,” explains Dave Sands, Executive Director. “We are a stronger organization than ever for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process. Our strength means farms and ranches from the lower Platte Valley to the Pine Ridge will be conserved for agriculture and wildlife forever, which is critical in a state where 97% of the land is privately owned.”
The NLT provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation to the NLT with a relatively rare finding of “no expectations for improvement,” signifying its confidence in our work.
Accreditation renewal comes at a time when the NLT is protecting more land than ever. In 2018 alone, the NLT completed four conservation easements in the Pine Ridge totaling 7,244 acres. These included the MJD Ranch which provides year-round habitat for a herd of elk and Our Heritage Guest Ranch adjacent to Nebraska’s iconic Toadstool Park. Statewide, the NLT has permanently conserved over 27,000 acres, including 3,386 acres in the lower Platte Valley; a region projected to have 2,000,000 people by the year 2050.
“It is exciting to recognize the Nebraska Land Trust’s continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust that more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards that demonstrate sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting stewardship.”
A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.